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    Adam & Ish – Ask the Rabbi

    Q. At a house of mourning I saw that Psalm 49 was read after the regular prayers and noticed that the psalm makes a distinction between b’nei adam and b’nei ish. I thought that adam and ish were interchangeable words for “man”. Is the psalm saying something different?

    A. There are several Biblical words for “man”.

    In Psalm 49 the contrast between b’nei adam and b’nei ish is probably contrasting “low-status man” and “high-status man”.

    The same psalm makes another distinction between ashir, the rich, and evyon, the poor.

    One of the High Holyday liturgical hymns contrasts Melech Elyon, the high king (i.e. God) and melech evyon, the poor or lowly king (i.e. the human being).

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